A fable of family and fire

You know how summer cottages are – the home for cast off furniture and family flareups of both the incendiary and emotional kind. We spent the weekend at the cottage of some family friends.  Everyone was encouraged to create a piece of art. (Disclaimer: The following account is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.)

This painting inspired me to write a fable about fire.

There once was a family cottage with a cupboard unit from ancient history that truly had outlived its natural life, even in a family of committed of recyclers, upcyclers and bicyclers. However, due to presumably misguided and arbitrary garbage collection policies of the village council, the family Matriarch had a problem. In short, she wanted the stuff GONE. A handy Young Fellow in the group took the initiative to chop the cupboards up and pile them in a heap on top of some nice dry branches that an Older Fellow had collected in the vacant lot next door. They then claimed that the Baby Dachshund (also male and therefore assumed to be another pyromaniac) might have dragged a burning stick over from the barbeque to the conveniently placed pile of unwanted flammable stuff and caused a significant bonfire. Because the water supply to the cottage was a rainfilled cistern, no firefighting hose was even available.


Not that there was any real danger! Oh no no no! The males had everything perfectly under control.  Female family opinions on appropriate actions were predictably divided.  When a siren wailed in the background, some of us sprang into action to form a bucket brigade from the kitchen sink, filling dishpans and saucepans and wine glasses, even after we concluded that the siren had probably been a car alarm. I manned the sink and every time I heard the clatter of red cowboy boots come near I knew that the Envronmentalist was arriving for the next container.

Meanwhile, the Lawyer, was lecturing the Matriarch on her unfortunate legal prospects.

The Matriarch was quite conflicted in her feelings and was also seriously annoyed about the disruption to an otherwise charming and elegant evening hosting out-of-country guests at the summer home. On the one hand, a visit from the local police or fire brigade would put a serious damper (pun intended) on the weekend. On the other hand, the unwanted furniture would disappear in minutes, to her great satisfaction. Those of us on the bucket brigade scurried past that debate with our heads down to avoid being called to jury duty in the family court.

In the midst of the commotion, the Designated Cook for the evening was trying to cook kangaroo shish kebabs on the legal fire. I can’t remember who was watching  Baby Dachshund but he managed to avoid both conflagrations and was not accidentally placed in a hotdog bun.


Is this a sleeping dog or kangaroo?

Eventually, the Lawyer and Environmentalist were dispatched to the pub to get another bottle of wine and we sat down to eat and review the excitement of the evening.

We all agreed that it was a successful bonding occasion that made the weekend memorable. We exchanged blog and Facebook information so we could all read the stories.


The morning after.

2 thoughts on “A fable of family and fire

  1. I love this Claire. Really captures the drama in a great way…and really like your writing style Also that you managed to iron out the more unfortunate bumps in the evenings event!!!Best Wishes Judy

    • Thanks – I’m glad you enjoyed. It was tricky to write, and probably puzzling to anyone who wasn’t there! I think the possum project would be a good topic too, but we dont know the ending yet.

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